So you’ve decided to breastfeed your baby—good for you! Research shows that breastfeeding really is best for both mom and baby! Even though women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of time, it can be challenging for a variety of reasons. These tricks and tips, words of encouragement, and background information will boost your confidence in your wise choice to breastfeed your baby.
Research. The most obvious reason to stick with breastfeeding is the benefits for both mom and baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics (www.aap.org) believes that breast milk is optimal nutrition for infants. Breast milk provides the best nutrition possible for child development, immunity, and overall health. For moms, breastfeeding has been known to decrease the risk of certain cancers including breast and ovarian cancers. Visit the APA website for more information on why these medical professionals believe breastfeeding is best. Just reminding yourself of the mounds of research pointing to the benefits of breastfeeding will help you make in through the difficult times and stick with your decision.
The first three weeks are the hardest! You may have heard this one before. If you can make it through the first three weeks or so, you’re probably going to make it for as long as you want. Those first few weeks can be difficult with sore nipples, baby latching problems, sleep deprivation, and mom’s recovery from childbirth. You may wonder why you ever decided to breastfeed in the first place. Try to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel, however, and know that it WILL get better! It really is quite easy for most people once you (and your baby) get the hang of it!
Returning to work. Many moms give up on breastfeeding after returning to work. You can make working and breastfeeding happen. You will undoubtedly need to invest in a double electric breast pump. Breast pumps can be expensive, but considering the money you are saving on formula costs, the investment is minimal. These pumps are very efficient and depending on your milk supply can often produce a full “serving” of milk in just 15 minutes. Some pumping accessories even allow you to have your hands free to type on the computer or talk on the phone while pumping. Most pump bags are actually quite stylish and include cold packs so you can store your milk in the discreet shoulder bag. If it is an issue, no one ever even has to know you’re carrying a breast pump! Many models also feature car adaptors for on-the-go pumping. Some popular brands to consider include Medela and Playtex. Do your research and choose the pump that works best for you.
Make the investment. Breastfeeding is indeed more economical than formula feeding, if you do it for long enough. It is certainly not free, however. There are certain supplies you may want to purchase to make breastfeeding easier. First of all, consider buying a breast pump. Even if you are not returning to work, a single manual pump will be useful. This way if you want to be out for an evening without your baby, you can leave some expressed milk for his or her caregiver. It is also always a good idea to keep some expressed milk in the freezer in case you get sick or injured. Other purchases include nursing bras and/or tops, a nursing pillow, breast milk storage bags or containers, breast pads, and nipple cream. Making your investment in these supplies early may motivate you to keep with breastfeeding, even during those first few, sometimes difficult, weeks.
Battling seclusion. Depending on your comfort level, and your family’s comfort level, you may be forced to leave the room to feed your baby while other people are present. This may lead to some feelings of loneliness or isolation. If you start to get down about this, take heart in the fact that you are bonding with your baby. There will only be so many months that you’ll have the chance to have this amazing interaction with your child, whereas you have the rest of your life to spend with your other family and friends.
Don’t give in to the naysayers! There may be people out there telling you all the negative parts of breastfeeding. You may here that you’ll be insanely sore, that your baby may never know how to latch on, and that you’ll never get any sleep because breast milk is so much more easily digested. Don’t get discouraged! Every single experience is different just like every mom and every baby is different. Yes, you might be sore. It is possible that your baby could have difficulty latching on. And yes, breast milk is more easily digested than formula so your baby might wake up for often in the night to eat. All of those scenarios are possible, but certainly are not the standard. Be prepared to ignore the naysayers and form your own personal opinions about your choice to breast feed your baby.
Breastfeeding is healthy, economical, uncomplicated, and an incredible bonding experience for you and your baby. Enjoy this amazing time in your child’s life! You can do this, and you’ll be so glad you did!